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Wednesday, May 10, 2000 -- Pittsburgh, PA
2000 ACA Summer Criterium Series
Story by Joe Papp with photos by Matt Walker (Pittsburgh Cycling Club)

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Pic Set 1]
For more information on cycling in Southwest PA, check with the Allegheny Cycling Association.

Rob Acciavatti
Rob Acciavatti pulls the four-man break
"I blew it." That is how WVU's Rob Acciavatti harshly rated his performance tonight, in which he finished second in the 1-2-3-feature race to 17 year-old Mike Friedman of the Pittsburgh Cycling Club. Acciavatti was referring to the move he made to drop his breakaway companion Friedman and catch the tail end of the A field with less than two laps to go. Only three laps beforehand, the two leaders rolled away from Joe Papp (PCC) and Scott Zwizanski (WVU), with whom they had spent the preceding 44 laps.

Acciavatti had intended to catch the main bunch with less than a lap to go, before making one of his patented, Jesper Skibby-like attacks in the final kilometer. As it was, by lapping the field with more than 1km to go, Acciavatti gave Friedman the time he needed to organize his teammates John Gamble and Mark Nicoll into an effective leadout train. While Acciavatti struggled to coordinate with his other teammate, Lief Hands, Nicoll and Gamble delivered their man to victory.

For Friedman, who leaves for Europe with the US National Team later this month, tonight's victory validated the intense preparation he has undergone since returning from Cuba's Tour of Havana. Having dispatched riders on two continents, Friedman now turns his attention to the world's best riders in Europe. For Acciavatti, the small tactical error that cost him the win was inconsequential-he has bigger fish to fry at this weekend's NCCA Collegiate Nationals in Athens, Ohio.

The field
Two and three-wide back in the pack
The A race was decided early when Friedman and Papp joined Acciavatti and Zwizanski after a prime sprint five minutes into the race. The four leaders quickly distanced the field, despite the desperate chasing of Team Schwinn riders John Evanko, Rob Gaus, Johnny Knotts and Jeff Timinski. Even the pulls of Kelly Yoder (Team Freddie Fu), who will compete in the Elite Women's Road National Championships and Olympic Trials next weekend, could not halt the break's advance.

With the race halfway over, the breakaways began to battle each other for Most Aggressive Rider points, awarded to the first rider across the line each lap. Though the lead changed hands constantly, in the end Friedman walked away with the prize.

In the B (3-4) race, 14 year-old Ryan Mele (Volpatti's) won the field sprint ahead of a resurgent Fred Baladassare (Team Freddie Fu) and Bill Powers (East Suburban Sports Medicine). For the second time in as many weeks, the race stayed together for all 30 laps, with riders never able to gain more than a few seconds on the field. Even two prime sprints could not split the group, though Josh Shaffer (AHRR) did his best to excite the crowd by launching several classy attacks. Mele was surprised at having won the sprint, since he "felt terrible" during the two prime sprints he contested, neither of which he came close to winning. For such a young rider, he shows a tenacious spirit far beyond his years. Remember, you heard about him here first!

C Race
Looking good in the C Race
Charlie Chulack (PCC) extended his winning streak in the 4-5 C race by finishing ahead of Todd Copeland (Pizza Outlet) and Mike Rytel (East Suburban) in a blistering field sprint. Unlike the B's, the C riders attacked with such ferocity that the field disintegrated immediately. Several riders quickly lost a lap, though in-race marshal Bill Forrest (Team Freddie Fu) did his best to provide advice and encouragement to all the riders. In a step unique to East Coast racing, the ACA has taken pains to place at least one veteran rider in both the C and B races to provide tips on safety and tactics to the up-and-coming riders.

With another week of racing at the Pseudodrome completed, the riders are beginning to find their legs. In the A's, a running duel between the PCC and WVU looks set to continue indefinitely, though Team Schwinn may steal an event when the big guns aren't looking. The B race is anyone's to win, though Mele may soon face competition if C rider Charlie Chulack upgrades. If not, expect to see Mele win again and Chulack continue his reign of terror in the C's.